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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Sonny, Brownie & Chris

Lake LACD 278




  1. Washington & Lee Swing
  2. Georgia Cakewalk
  3. I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair
  4. Big House Blues
  5. Sing On
  6. Midnight Special
  7. Climbing On Top Of The Hill
  8. Custard Pie
  9. Betty & Dupree
  10. This Little Light Of Mine
  11. Southern Train
  12. Cornbread, Peas & Black Molasses
  13. John Henry
  14. Key To The Highway
  15. If I Could Only Hear My Mother Pray Again
  16. No Worries On My Mind
  17. Glory
  18. Do Lord
  19. If I Ever Cease To Love
  20. Blue Bells Goodbye
  21. When You And I Were Young Maggie
  22. Just A Closer Walk With Thee
  23. Runnin' Wild

Chris Barber - Trombone, bass (tracks 1-5, 8-10, 15-23)
Sonny Terry - Harmonica, vocals (tracks 6-17)
Brownie McGhee - Vocals, guitar (tracks 6-17)
Pat Halcox - Trumpet (tracks 1-5, 9-10, 15-23)
Monty Sunshine - Clarinet (tracks 1-5, 8, 9-10, 16-23)
Eddie Smith - Banjo (tracks 1-5, 9-10, 14, 16-23)
Dick Smith - Bass (tracks 1-5, 9-10, 16-23)
Graham Burbidge - Drums (tracks 1-5, 9-10, 16-23)
recorded 1958


This CD consists of largely unissued material but its core is a ten inch LP made by the visiting Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee with Chris Barberís Jazz Band in 1958. Barberís ear for visiting fireman was uncanny and one measure of his acumen is the ease with which, stylistically, a variety of jazz, blues and gospel singers and instrumentalists fitted so adeptly into the surroundings of his own increasingly flexible and stylistically eclectic band. Barberís plurality of approach was really something, and deserves to be saluted to this day.

One example, obviously without the visiting American stars, is a show tune such as I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair. It might seem an unlikely vehicle for the band but itís the way they co-opt it to their corporate ensemble style thatís so interesting, even if it isnít entirely successful or even if there were better songs, more susceptible to the arranging treatment. Sing On by contrast is straight out of ĎThe Revivalí and here Monty Sunshine extols George Lewis with fervour.

The items from that Nixa LP [NJT515] are marked in the booklet notes. There are seven songs altogether lasting about twenty minutes or so. Midnight Special, the song Leadbelly draped around him, is classic ground for Terry and McGhee, and John Henry proves addictive, no matter how many times they might have performed it. This number was not actually on the Nixa LP so its appearance here is especially noteworthy, especially with the fine harp blowing. By and large the Barber band contented itself with modest fills or backing voices when Brownie and Sonny were with them. One of the most extended instrumental solos comes via Sunshine on No Worries On My Mind. Elsewhere we find a spruce and unhackneyed approach to the Blues, to Ellingtonia and traditional material Ė try the robust and invigorating Just A Closer Walk With Thee as an example.

Paul Adams, aka ĎMr Lakeí, notes the amount of echo inherent in some of these recordings, which has been beyond him entirely to remedy. It certainly adds to the gutsy charm and to the spirit of the enterprise.

Jonathan Woolf


See also an additional review by Tony Augarde


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

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